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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Free bus rides for elderly, poor

The community bus service introduced in Selangor last year is meant for all senior citizens in the State.

This service is free for both the poor and the middle class aged 60 and above (the recognised definition for the elderly in Selangor). Hence, there is no discrimination.

“This is because any poor person can become rich overnight and likewise, any rich person can fall into the needy category too.

“As far as the Petaling Jaya council is concerned, the service is meant for everybody,” Selangor Local Government, Study and Research Committee chairman Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew said.

Liu was asked to clarify if the service was reserved for areas where only the lower income group lived, and therefore senior citizens in established neighbourhoods would not be able to enjoy the community bus service, as claimed.

Malay Mail had raised the issue early last month with the local authority, appealing for the service to be extended to several areas in Petaling Jaya, only to be told that it was meant strictly for the marginalised, a majority of whom had been identified in PJS, PJU and Kota Damansara.

Liu said it was not true the service was for a select few.

“It is not important where they come from. It is for the poor as well as for the rich.”

It was now up to the bus company and all local authorities to plan the routes where the buses should ply.

“The public can also give feedback to their respective local councils as to where they want the service.”

It was highlighted recently that following a bus company’s offer of a free community bus service to the council, another bus company had forwarded another proposal for it to be extended to cover the entire State.

The second company had also indicated that it was willing to add more buses so that more people would benefit from it. Liu said the other company would be submitting a proposal next week.

This initiative would be at no cost to the State government. The company concerned would be free to design its buses with advertisements for its source of income, while the local authorities would help to coordinate the building of the bus stops.

Currently, there are two community buses providing free service to old and poor Petaling Jaya residents.


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